After the loss the mother cries, but people tend to forget that the father also cries. Some people might say (or think to themselves), “She was the one carrying the baby, not you,” but that’s not true because a father (in this case, me) also carries the child. We carry the children in our hearts, in our love, and even in our tears.
Not so long ago, years gone past since our loss, I was sitting at my desk, alone in the bedroom, trying to write something, when the memory of my lost baby came to visit me. Suddenly, out of the blue, a few tears came rushing out of my eyes and I sat there, staring at a Word Document without knowing what to do. I stared at the screen with blurry eyes, but only for a few seconds because I quickly got up and wiped the tears from my eyes.
I moved along our small apartment and found my wife and daughter sitting in the living room. The wife looked briefly at me and smiled, and I smiled back. As for our daughter, she was too busy watching Sarah and Duck to even notice me. But she was there, our precious child, our second child. As for our son, he was at school, learning and playing.
I left them there and went into the kitchen where I made myself a cup of coffee. Then I told myself, “You can’t complain. You have two beautiful children. Some people don’t even have that.”
Two children, yes, but there had been a child in between, a child that made it from the womb into the bathroom, a child that was the colour of grey jelly. That child was never born. My wife had a miscarriage at 12 weeks, one week before the scan. One morning she started to bleed and I drove us to the doctor. On the way there I thought, “Please, let it be nothing.”
But even then I knew it was something.
We waited patiently to see our doctor who then told us to wait and go for the scan on the following week. There was nothing the doctor could do. There was nothing anyone could do. If a miscarriage is going to happen there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it.
I drove us back home and once we were in the building my wife felt the baby falling out, bit by bit, piece by piece, little fragments of a life that wasn’t meant to be. To my horror, I saw her belly shrinking, our baby vanishing, unnamed, unknown, but never unloved. We went to the bathroom and my wife sat down. Bits came out of her, like grey jelly, down the waste pipe. There was no time to cry, no time to mourn. No time…
I drove us to the hospital in silence and I heard the wife say, “Maybe its twins. Maybe we lost one but there’s another one in there.”
She was hoping in vain. I looked at her belly and I saw “nothing.” And I said nothing. I had no words to say. I felt as if I had a stone in my throat. I was too scared to speak.
Once at the hospital the doctor did a scan. There was nothing.
We drove home in silence.
Later, my wife, the good Mormon, said, “Don’t cry. Our baby is with Heavenly Father.”
That was of no consolation for me. I didn’t want my baby to be with Heavenly Father.
I stood there looking at her, thinking. Being Jewish I couldn’t even say Kaddish for my unborn baby. Did my baby have a soul? I wondered.
I mourned silently.
Years later, we had another child, a baby girl. When we found out that we were going to have a girl I said, “We cannot name her Yasmin.”
Yasmin and Thomas were the names we chose for our unborn baby and there was no way that I could give any of those names to another child. That name was gone, down the waste pipe, like grey jelly. Our new baby would be named after my recently deceased aunt Isabel. We decided there and then that we had to name the baby we lost, and so we called him Innocent, a name that could be either for a girl or a boy. Afterwards Innocent was temporarily forgotten, but, as I mentioned at the start, not so long ago, years gone past since our loss, the image of my baby going down the waste pipe came back to visit me. It was a horrible image, one that sometimes still haunts me.
I grabbed a cup of coffee and made my way back to my desk. I went online searching for something. For an answer. For a reason why. For my baby.
The Talmud (Niddah 30b) teaches us that when a child is in the womb the child is taught the entire Torah, and when the child is born an angel strikes the baby which causes the child to forget all learnt. But my child was only in the womb for 12 weeks. How much did he or she learn (about Torah) during that time?
I Googled searches that I can no longer recall, searches about miscarriage, do the unborn have a soul, etcetera, etcetera.
During my searches I came across a few articles by a Jewish writer called Lilly Rubin-Sokoloff. She, too, had a miscarriage, and she wrote “healing is an ongoing process”, and even when we feel we are finished (with our mourning and acceptance), there will be times when we revisit the deep pain of our loss. I was a grieving father reading the words of a grieving mother. I kept on reading. She said/wrote she missed her baby. She missed the baby’s Torah learning within her womb, and she still felt the pain, the loss. I know how she felt. And I felt it, too.
I was happy to read that within a year of her miscarriage, she became pregnant again and gave birth to a baby boy, and, at the end of both her articles (“A Jewish perspective on miscarriage and stillbirth” and “On the path to healing”), she wrote she was grateful to G-d not only for the blessing, but also for the journey. I read both articles a couple more times, hoping to find in them a cure for my pain, my loss.
On “On the path to healing” I read that “it is a blessing to have merited having such a pure soul within one’s womb for however short or long a time.”
I felt better then. Only slightly. Knowing that I was lucky for having two healthy children with me, I put my pain aside.
Not so long ago I was in the bedroom with the wife while our children were sleeping in their bedroom, and she turned to me and asked, “Don’t you sometimes feel as if there’s someone missing?”
I hugged her and said nothing. Our Innocent was gone, down the waste pipe, like grey jelly, but we carry a reminder of our baby in our hearts, and one day, who knows? One can only hope.